I have a confession - I usually avoid the Hammersmith Apollo, due to one very horrible Florence & the Machine gig where I had to stand up at the back of the balcony. It was hot and so awful I left before the encore and before I passed out from the heat. I saw nothing except people's backsides. But I do love the White Stripes and so off we went to Jack White on Friday night.
First, we met up with Tim the plumber and got on the train. Tim's a great guy, but he enjoys his lager. Mr and I swore blind we would not be sucked into Tim's tricks of buying loads of beer/cider during a concert. Last time that happened, Tim and I wound up prancing around like fools outside Heaven with Erin O'Connor and the lead singer of the Alpines. I kept calling Erin, Erin Brokovich.
I was so tiddly I took a photo of Tim and Erin with her head cut off. Mr was inside trying to get Oh Land's autograph. They ran off just as he got outside. Never mind. But the problem is that if you do that on a school night, or any other night where you have to get up with a small child the next day, it's not good.
So, here we are at the Apollo, and Tim goes off for the first round, as I settle into my balcony seat. Having a seat is key at the Apollo. Do not bother with the standing tickets they sell. First Aid Kit are on, and sounding good, playing between the sheeted instruments for Jack's set. We catch two songs, the lion's roar one and the one where they yell "Fire!" and on the album is a duet with a guy who sounds like a young Bob Dylan. I luv this album myself.
FAK seem a bit shy - the two of them have long hair and they look like twin Cousin Its from the Addams family up there, playing away. Sometimes I think musicians being shy is just the most bizarre thing. Aren't you supposed to be performers? But the noise the two hairy ones were emanating was excellent. They leave to loud applause
Then, after a decent interval, Jack White and his 6 woman band come on. The ladies were dressed like Charlene Tilton from Dallas. Now, Mr White is a bit of a hyper performer. He cannot stand still. He prowls around the stage like a 5-year old stuck indoors. He is also quite multi-talented - he can do a guitar, he can play the piano. I like guys like this.
He blasts through a large selection of stuff he has written since Meg left the band. Some of it is country. Jack has a fondness for country, as his collaborations with Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams have proved. Me, I am not so crazy about it and I don't recognise most of it. This is alleviated somewhat by Tim's constant watering of Mr and I with alcohol.
And Jack seems a bit lost, despite his running around. And then I figure it out, after the interval where he and his band (he also apparently has a six-man band that he plays with too, on alternating dates) trundle off for a drink. This might be down to the cider I had ingested, but here's my theory:
Jack is missing Meg. Meg, the woman who spent concerts beating up the drums like she was the Cadbury's Gorilla. The one who would do a song and howl into the microphone. Meg, the one who is apparently suffering from stage fright and no longer will tour.
Poor Jack. He did his best. The female drummer tried to thump the drums like Meg used to do, but she wasn't using her time behind the skins as therapy like Meg did. So, the audience stayed seated until the end when he played "7 Nations" and the Doorbell song. I think the last one was directly aimed at Meg. When ya gonna ring it, Meg?
Marks out of 10: 7, because by God Jack tries.
The Apollo's still not my favourite venue though. It does get hot up in the balcony.